I can’t believe that we are at the end of March and preparing for Easter weekend again! Last year 3 of my 4 kiddos were able to be with us for Easter. It was a special time with all three of the grands together for the first time! This year I will have only 2 of them plus a sweet daughter-in-law and 2 of the grands.
Recently I found a few pictures taken during my college days…senior year to be exact. I was a Home Economics major, and at the time, we had to spend 6 weeks in the Home Economics Residence. I happened to be assigned during the spring…including Easter. This picture was taken on Easter Sunday 36 years ago! I have been able to reconnect with 2 of my housemates through social media! We all got along very well and have lots of happy memories of those 6 weeks!
If you’ve been ready this blog for any length of time, you will know that I got my love of baking from my dear mother. I also was the recipient of many of her small kitchen gadgets when she decided she needed to give up her own kitchen. I know that kitchen gadgets are not meant to last very long. They are items we often receive as gifts for bridal showers and are often replaced before too many years of marriage have passed. However, I do still happen to have a few items that belonged to my mother years ago. They were very well made way back then (early 1970s) and have withstood the test of time. Mom bought these two particular items from a very dear friend of hers who was a school teacher during the year, but needed work during the summer. At least one summer she sold kitchen items…Pampered Chef, perhaps? I have no idea what company made these amazing tools, but they have lasted and lasted and lasted…like the Energizer Bunny, maybe? It is time for me to replace them, though, because they are finally wearing out. You can see the crack in the spatula to the left and the broken handle on the one on the right.
For several years, our Easter dessert has been pavlova. This year will be no different! I have all the ingredients written on my grocery list! You can find the recipe here. Be sure to give it a try! Your family will love it!
While working in the kitchen yesterday, cutting up veggies for the hubby’s evening salad, I realized that my knives needed to be sharpened. I am so thankful for this vintage electric knife sharpener that was my mom’s.
I have no idea how old it is, but it still works famously for sharpening knives! I love it! The only problem that I do have with it is that it was made for a right-handed person. I am left-handed, so I have to do the “cross over” move to use it!
The immersion blender that Sam gave me for Christmas has become my new favorite kitchen tool. It is amazing!!! I have no idea when this handy-dandy little gadget was invented, but I sure do wish I had had one a long time ago! It is such a time-saver! Seriously!! I can whip up eggs for omelets in less than 15 seconds! And when I need to blend the veggies in my broccoli cheddar soup, I just stick it in the pot and mix! It’s done in seconds! No more pouring the soup into the big blender, blending, and then returning it to the pot and repeating the process until the entire batch is done. And you know what else? Clean-up is a breeze, and the hubby loves it, too! He mixes his own protein smoothies after every workout! You can read about the one I have here.
This year for Christmas, the hubby, Ben, Sam and I traveled to see Barbi in VA. She couldn’t come home because of her job in retail, so we decided to go see her! It was a fun time. We missed Russ, Hope and sweet Mia, but they got to spend a week in FL with Hope’s family. Several of those family members got to meet our darling Mia for the first time!
We took most of our gifts up with us and had fun opening them with Barbi Christmas morning. I was excited to receive a new blender and immersion blender! I can’t wait to try them!
I made a pecan pie and a pumpkin pie that we took with us for Christmas dinner dessert. We also took a turkey with us, and Barbi purchased most of the other items we needed for our dinner. I enjoyed working with both Barbi and Tim in the kitchen to get our dinner together. As he did at Thanksgiving, Tim did a fantastic job with the turkey and dressing. I didn’t get a picture of our Christmas buffet, but it was wonderful!
Earlier this week I noticed that I am almost up to 16,000 views to the blog! This totally amazes me! I was hoping to reach 15,000 by the end of this year, and here we are in the final week of the year, and I am almost 1000 over that goal! Only 196 more to go!
Whoever said that life slows down once the kids are grown was clueless! Either that person never had kids or was not personally involved with them! I am experiencing a different kind of busy these days. I no longer school any of them, one is engaged to be married, one is married, one is away at college, and my “baby” is working and preparing to leave for BMT in June. For some reason, it still takes me a while to finish projects that I start. Actually, it takes me time to get projects started. Seriously, what is my problem??
Last week, my married son graduated from a 3-week program at the state police academy for his job. It was a hard 3 weeks, but he did great!
This week I was able to spend a few days with my girl in Virginia working on her wedding plans. I was so glad to be able to be with her!! Unfortunately, it rained the entire time I was there…a very cold and windy rain. But spending time with her was priceless!
She and her man just closed on a house, so her apartment days are almost over!
While there, Barbi made some amazing lettuce wraps. Of course, I forgot to get the recipe from her, but once I do, I will share it here.
This afternoon while browsing at a local consignment shop, I spotted a Better Homes and Gardens cookbook. Even though I have 70+ cookbooks/booklets, I have never had one of these. I just had to get it at the amazing price of $5.00!! This red and white gingham-print cookbook has many memories for me. It is the only cookbook that I remember my mother using! I remember hers being very tattered and torn, spotted and splattered from many years of use. Several months ago I was thinking about her cookbook and realized that I don’t have it. Unfortunately, my sister doesn’t have it either. Neither of us remember finding it after Mom passed away back in 2007. I really wish that one of us have it, but evidently Mom either gave it away or threw it away without ever telling either of us. So sad!! At least I have a similar one now! Can’t wait to see what great recipes I will find within its pages!
The hubby spent most of this past week in PA visiting and helping his elderly parents. If you’ve been reading my blog for any length of time, you know that my in-laws live near a Mennonite community in central PA. At the end of summer one of the local farmers sells his tomatoes by the box or bucketful for a very low price. Since we had so much rain this summer (31.19 inches to be exact), our own tomatoes didn’t do very well, so the good man brought home 2 boxes of huge tomatoes. He weighed them this morning to find out that these two boxes together weighed nearly 60 pounds.
I was a little overwhelmed to say the least, but he promised he would help me to get them either canned or frozen. And he kept his word! After spending several hours in the kitchen today, this is what we have:
21 quarts of canned tomatoes and 4 quarts ready for the freezer! Oh, and that basket you see in the back? It is overflowing with yet another picking of hot chili peppers and jalapenos! Guess we will be eating lots of chili, spaghetti, salsa, and tomato soup this winter!
As I mentioned in a post several weeks ago, we have been getting lots of peppers this year…mainly our hot peppers, although the bell peppers aren’t doing too badly either. My hubby is the only member of the family who enjoys eating hot peppers freshly picked from the plant. The kids enjoy them in salsa and shrimp dip, but never just eating plain! Since we have such an abundance, I have been working on ways to preserve them for future use. The hubs came up with the idea of pickling them, so I did some searching for a good, easy recipe. None of my favorite cookbooks had recipes for pickling peppers, so I went to the internet like any modern-day lady would do. Sure enough! I found several recipes! This one came from allrecipes.com and calls for padron peppers. I don’t have any of that variety, but have tons of jalapenos and hot chili peppers.
http://allrecipes.com/recipe/pickled-padron-peppers/detail.aspx I used 2 small jars and cut the peppers in half instead of using a quart jar with whole peppers.
The other day as I was making hamburger patties, I started reminiscing about my mom and the way she did things in the kitchen. I realized that my hamburger patty shaper is the same one she used for years! This of course got me thinking about other kitchen tools I have that once were hers. I pulled out a few of these to share in a picture with you. The canning funnel, hamburger patty shaper, and gravy shaker are all made of aluminum, and must be about 57 years old! The whisk was given to my mom years ago before we ever moved from NJ, so it also is quite old, probably about 45 years old. I still use all of these except the gravy shaker. I just can’t seem to get the lid on tightly enough to keep it from leaking when I shake it!
Before I share my Shepherd’s Pie recipe, I want to tell you about my mixing bowl disaster!
About two weeks ago I broke one of my absolute favorite mixing bowls…the green one to my vintage Pyrex set that once belonged to my father’s sister. It just slipped from my fingers when I was drying it, fell to the floor and shattered into a gazillion pieces. My heart was as broken as my bowl! I did a little searching to see if I could find one to replace it. I did find one on-line, but with an asking price of nearly $40 plus shipping, I decided not to go with that one! I let my thrifty niece know about my bowl, and she found several on-line for me at a price I could afford!!! I could hardly contain my excitement today when I arrived home to see a box sitting on my counter…my new (to me) green mixing bowl! Now that I realize that these bowls are from the 1950s and possibly even from the 1940s, I think that I will retire them from regular use. I had no clue that they are that old! Since I prefer using glass bowls instead of metal ones, I have a shopping trip in my near future for a new set of mixing bowls!
Now to my recipe. This dish is a wonderful way to use up leftover beef and gravy. I have made it before but not with a pie crust. It turned out just great! I really can’t give exact amounts here, so you just sort of eye it up.
Cooked roast beef, cut into bite-sized pieces…ground beef works fine, too (about 2 cups)
1 medium onion, diced
Beef gravy (about 1 cup)
corn…I used frozen, but one can would be just fine
Mashed potatoes (about 1-1/2 cups)
salt, pepper, paprika
1 pie shell for 9-inch pie
Saute the onion in the olive oil until tender. Add the beef and gravy to the skillet and heat through. If the mixture seems a little dry, add more gravy, but don’t let it get to watery. Season with salt and pepper and pour into pie shell.
Cover with a layer of corn. Cover corn with mashed potatoes, spreading to seal the edges. Sprinkle potatoes with paprika.
Bake in 350 degree oven for about 30 minutes until heated through, crust is cooked, and potatoes are lightly browned.
It was always fun when my kids helped me in the kitchen. Sometimes they just wanted to be near me while I worked, but other times they wanted to “help.” Their way of helping often turned into more work for me, but I do have fun memories of their time with me in the kitchen. Kids grow up way to fast these days! I can’t believe that I no longer have little children in my house!
Recently my niece posted a picture of her two oldest children working in the kitchen. It was just so cute that I had to ask her if I could share it here. My other niece also shared a picture of her 4-year-old helping her in the kitchen.
I hope you all let your little ones help in your kitchen! Regardless of any extra work it may make for you, you are making memories with your children…memories which will be cherished in the years to come!
Two-year-old Levi looking for a recipe “on-line” while three-year-old Lily gathers ingredients:
Four-year-old Ridley helping his mom make tomato-basil soup:
Today was an absolutely beautiful fall day! Although the temperatures were about 10 degrees higher than normal (global warming??), the breeze was gentle and cool. I was able to purchase some fresh pecans earlier in the week from a friend. I have not had fresh pecans in quite a few years, so this is a real treat for me! I grew up having about 5 pecan trees in our yard, and many fall days were spent picking them up. While my siblings and I were in school during the day, my mom would spend time cracking them. In the evenings or on the weekends, the rest of us would often sit around the table talking and cleaning the nuts. Definitely fun memories! Today I spent about half an hour cracking some pecans using the old nut cracker that my mom used years ago!
Haystack Cookies are a fun treat that I first made when my kids were little. These are an easy no-bake cookie that even toddlers can help with. You can’t lose with just 3 ingredients!
6 oz. butterscotch chips
2 c. chow mein noodles
1 c. peanuts
Melt the butterscotch chips on low heat in a large sauce pot, stirring frequently. Add the chow mein noodles and peanuts. Stir to coat. Using a tablespoon, make “haystacks” out of the mixture and place on cookie sheets. Allow to cool. If the mixture is too dry, add more chips. If it is too wet, add more chow mein noodles or peanuts.
I am absolutely excited this afternoon about something I found at a consignment shop that even the horrendous traffic on my side of town can’t put a damper on it! My mom had a few pieces of brownware dishes that she enjoyed using when I was growing up. She had an oval serving bowl, an oval platter, and a quart-size pitcher as well as a few mugs and small bowls. I think that there must have been 8 bowls originally, but there were just 5 when I got the set. And, of course, a few years ago, I dropped one of the bowls which broke beyond repair. I was devastated!
This afternoon I took some items to a consignment shop and had to wait to see if all would be accepted. I love browsing through the store while waiting. I was quite surprised to see some brownware dishes on a shelf just like my mom’s! I even called my son to check on what I had just to make sure they were the same! At first I decided the asking price was a bit steep, but then realized that the green colored tag meant that they were 50% off the price! I knew I could get 4 of the bowls at the reduced rate and complete my set of 8 bowls once again! I am thrilled!